Colorful and imaginative, Dreamworks Animation’s Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie delights fans of the series while challenging the attention span of those unfamiliar. To leave the theater claiming “boredom” simultaneously suggests the lack of a connection with someone who loved reading the books and an intuitive understanding of story.
Underpants lacks a Main Character Throughline, lacks an Influence Character Throughline, and lacks a Relationship Story Throughline. With an Overall Story Throughline that pivots with the creation of Captain Underpants himself, even that most objective and easiest of perspectives to lock down fails to engage the Audience on a deeper emotional level.
One sequence in particular hints at the difference attention to these other three Throughlines would manifest: the vision of best friends George and Harold separated across time and space as two planets spun off from one another tugs at the heart and grants sincere emotion into an otherwise cold and slapstick experience. More sequences like this, tied together in a cohesive thematic framework better understood as Four Throughlines, could have exponentially increased the returns on this film.
And by returns, we refer to not only revenue—but also the intention of those willing to return to watch a second time. Blockbuster epic films like this year’s Wonder Woman demand repeated viewings because they tell a full and complete story—because they relate a narrative encompassing all Four Throughlines. A film like Captain Underpants, while loved and enjoyed by those who grew up loving when their Dad would work the “Flip-O-Rama” for them at bedtime, will end up forgotten by those longing for a connection to something much deeper.
To understand your story is to appreciate the storyform that communicates your deepest intentions. By connecting to that message, you ensure a sincerity unfounded in most modern cinema and an honesty Audiences return to time and time again.